In total, last year five women were shot dead and three others were killed by other means. A little girl was also killed. This represents nine homicides out of a total of 72; the rest of the victims were men.
The movement restrictions have blurred traditional measures to combat domestic violence, such as calling the police or crisis hotlines, said Kristin Shrimplin, executive director of the nonprofit. of Women Helping Women survivors in Cincinnati.
“When a pandemic hits, you have to pivot,” she said.
In early March, Shrimplin said, calls increased to the agency’s hotline, but after the state of Ohio imposed a stay-at-home order on March 25, “we started to see a decrease. of our hotline calls ”by about 14%.
“We started to get really worried,” Shrimplin said. “With the abuser at home, what is it like for
adult chat survivors and for children?”
She feared that abusers would find it easier to prevent their victims from seeking help.
Shimplin said advocates for Women Helping Women agreed they needed to provide survivors with another channel of communication. The agency had tried to set up a text messaging service last year, but no grants were received.
When the hotline calls fell in March, “We’re like, we’ve got to do this, let’s go in good faith,” Shrimplin said, and the agency paid their service provider out of pocket for the function. “None of us at the agency wanted to wait for this again.”
Last week, the hotline’s text feature went live, and Shrimplin said the service was “getting good traffic” with up to 15 contacts per day since launch.
Adding the text function cost the agency $ 35,000 for one year of service. United Way of Butler County and the Fifth Third Foundation provided funding.
“This will allow survivors to have real-time access to our defenders, but no one should hear them speak at home. It is therefore safer if they are near someone who is harming them. “
Consulting with other Ohio advocates, “we’re seeing trends that are of great concern to us across the state,” and Shrimplin, who noted gun sales are on the rise. “It’s never good for the survivors.”
When the stay-at-home order was lifted, Shrimplin said, “I have to expect more people to come forward who couldn’t come forward before.”
“ The COVID-19 epidemic has shattered traditional safety nets ”
On Tuesday, the Hamilton Country Attorney’s Office launched its new Crimes of Violence Against Women and Children unit.
Led by Veteran Assistant Prosecutor Stacey DeGraffenreid, the unit will ensure that victims retain the same prosecutor and the victim’s attorney throughout any court experience.
The team will also examine criminal cases in which women, children and domestic partners are victims, and “will be available 24/7 for law enforcement consultation during the investigation phase. of the case ”.
“We know that the COVID-19 epidemic has broken traditional safety nets that identify and help women, children and domestic partners at risk,” Prosecutor Joe Deters said in a statement.
Deters explained that work-from-home policies mean that co-workers are no longer able to encourage victims of abuse to get help. Closed schools mean teachers don’t notice and report signs of abuse in their students.
“Stay at home orders force abused women and children to be with their abuser 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Victims may feel like there is no way out,” Deters said. “As your Hamilton County District Attorney, I want to make it clear that there is hope.”
Citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prosecutor’s office said nearly half of all female homicide victims are killed by a current or former intimate partner.
Police and prosecutors encourage anyone who is in danger or knows someone in danger to call 911 if possible.
Victims in abusive situations who try to leave an abusive relationship can text or call
Women who help women at 513-381-5610 or call YWCA at 513-872-9259.
Those who suspect that a child is in danger or being abused can call
Employment and family services at 241-KIDS. National resources
If you are a victim of domestic violence, the
allows you to speak confidentially with qualified attorneys online or by phone at 800-799-7233. National hotline against domestic violence
The hotline offers crisis advice, safety planning and help finding shelter at 1-800-621-HOPE (4673) or by using the chat feature on its website. Safe horizon
Crisis text line provides free 24/7 SMS support to people in crisis when they dial 741741.
For people who identify as LGBTQ, the
TrevorLifeline from the Trevor project can be reached at 1-866-488-7386 for assistance on a variety of issues.